A team of paleontologists has announced the discovery of a rare species of plesiosaur in Alaska’s Talkeetna Mountains. According to the dinosaur experts, the fossils belong to a prehistoric marine creature called elasmosaur. The ones who discovered the fossils are a group of researchers from the University of Alaska Museum of the North.
The experts say this is the first time this species of plesiosaur known as the elasmosaur was discovered in Alaska. Patrick Druckenmiller, a curator at the museum, explained that the elasmosaur is a species of plesiosaur that had a very long neck and limbs like paddles it used to swim in the prehistoric seas. This marine animal lived during the Late Cretaceous period, which was more than 70 million years ago.
Curvin Metzler, a fossil collector from Anchorage, has discovered several vertebrae from the creature’s skeleton sticking out of the earth while he was on a hiking trip. He said this was the first time he has ever discovered a fossil in that area in 25 years since he’s been collecting skeletons. Metzler contacted Drucknemiller and they both started digging to find the source of the fossils. After digging into the hillside they were able to collect a big part of the dinosaur’s skeleton.
Metzler said that he he’s interested in discovering invertebrates, so when he saw the first vertebra he realized it was an animal’s bone. He didn’t want to start digging before talking to an expert so he contacted his friend Pat Druckenmiller who helped him recover the fossilized skeleton.
Although this is the first time such a dinosaur species was discovered in Alaska, Druckenmiller has found numerous plesiosaur fossils from all over Northern America and is known as one of the best expert in marine reptile fossils. In 2010, Druckenmiller has found an almost-complete skeleton of elasmosaur in Montana. The impressive skeleton is currently on display at a museum in Fairbanks, part of the exhibit called “Expedition Alaska: Dinosaurs”.
Druckenmiller said he was very excited when Metzler contacted him about the bones. He immediately recognized one of the bones as being a vertebra from the base of the animal’s neck. He went to see what it was all about and managed to excavate the entire skeleton. After he put all the bones together, he realized the marine animal must have been more than 25 feet long, from head to tail.
Image Source: deviantart